Foods Kids Should Avoid for Healthy Teeth and Gums
Getting kids to eat a healthy diet can be an uphill battle but it is well worth the effort. Most parents and caregivers will try to provide healthy snacks for better general health, but unhealthy foods and drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay in kids. Promoting healthy eating habits while they are still young will help them have strong and healthy teeth and gums right into adulthood and hopefully for life. At the same time you will be protecting their general health by lowering the risk of obesity and all the issues related to this problem and which include diabetes and heart problems as well as an increased risk of some cancers. So which foods and drinks are best avoided or kept as an occasional treat?
Often promoted as being healthy beverages, fruit juices can contain a large amount of sugar. At the same time it tends to be acidic, attacking tooth enamel and softening it and increasing the risk of tooth decay.
Another food that is seemingly healthy, but which can be packed full of hidden sugar is dried fruit or fruit leather. Even worse, dried fruit tends to be quite sticky and is not easily rinsed away by water or saliva. Those little snack packs of raisins are easy to stick into lunchboxes, but your child is better off eating whole, fresh fruit to have healthy teeth and gums.
Soda is often associated with poor dental health and with obesity as a can of soda may contain several teaspoons of sugar. It might be tempting to offer your child diet soda instead, but while this may have zero calories, it is no healthier for teeth. This is because diet sodas contain acids that will attack and weaken tooth enamel, increasing the risk of acid erosion and tooth decay.
Chips and Cookies
These foods are high in carbohydrates and also tend to stick to teeth. Bacteria in the mouth will feed off these carbohydrates, producing acids that will attack tooth enamel.
Making Food Choices for Healthy Teeth and Gums
It is quite easy to make healthier food choices. Instead of dried fruit or fruit juice, get your child into the habit of eating whole, fresh fruit. This way they will get all the nutritional benefits of eating fruit, with less chance of the fruit damaging their teeth. The best drinks for healthy teeth and gums include plain water or plain milk, although be aware that milk does contain some sugars and should not be given as a bedtime drink after your child has brushed their teeth. Instead of offering chips or cookies, other sugary foods as a snack, try to get your kid to snack on cheese which is packed full of protein and calcium which will help build strong bones and healthy teeth and gums. Fresh raw vegetables are another good snack and can be served with hummus or yoghurt based dips. Keep unhealthier food choices as part of a main meal and get your kid into the habit of rinsing their mouth with plain water after eating. Remember, if you would like your child to have more personalized dietary advice, just ask Dr. Marina Krepkh or any of our friendly pediatric dentists for help to ensure your kid has healthy teeth and gums for life.
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Dr. Marina Krepkh
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Brooklyn, NY 11209 (Bay Ridge)